an outlet of encouragement, explanation, and exhortation

Category: Christian Living (Page 1 of 7)

Quaker Testimonies

I often read Johan Mauer’s fifth day commentaries on CanYouBelieve.me. Recently his writing included an excerpt listing “Quaker Testimonies” taken from the developing Faith and Practice of Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting. I found it refreshingly…. er, Quaker?

I mean that in contrast to the drift of many Friends groups toward generic American evangelicalism, abandoning testimonies historically valued by Friends. I’m not advocating a stance that ignores the times in which we live in favor of some idealized past. (Frankly, our past has never been ideal!)

However, these are testimonies that faithfully represent Jesus’ character and teachings that Friends have tried to seriously pursue and embody. They remain Jesus’ teaching and character; they are not obsolete! If we are to follow Him, we try to live these testimonies in an age of 21st technology and often violent global society where they remain relevant and necessary as the life to which Jesus calls.

But let me get to the testimonies! You can read the whole commentary by Johan here. The testimony portion that I want to highlight (by quoting) follows.

We understand the Quaker testimonies as a call:

  • to live simply and sustainably;
  • to seek nonviolent responses to conflict, and refuse participation in war and preparation for war;
  • to speak the truth and keep our promises;
  • to make common decisions based on our community’s practice of prayer and discernment rather than majority rule or force of personality;
  • to regard each other—and all people—with a commitment to equality and equity, rejecting all false distinctions based on social, cultural, or economic status;
  • in the wider world, to support, advocate, and initiate efforts toward peace, justice, care of Creation, and relief of suffering in ways that are consistent with these testimonies;
  • in all things, to put Love first.

As we set forth these values and commitments, we acknowledge that they are to some extent aspirational, not an inventory of our successes as of today.

Needing Christ

One thing I knew by this time: I needed Christ and not merely His religion… The Bible says that God does not wait for me to merit His love but heaps it upon me without my deserving it. It says also that there is neither male nor female in Christ… How good, how indescribably good! What good news for me a woman, a woman born in India among Brahmans who hold out no hope for me and the like of me! The Bible declares that Christ did not reserve this great salvation for a particular caste or sex.

Pandita Ramabai, An Honourable Heritage: The Pandita Ramabai Story in her Own Words (eBook: Community Christian Ministries, 2019), pp. 27, 28, 30-31.

Notes on Free Speech, Civil Disobedience, and Following Jesus

This post is written in support of the Long Beach Friends Church message of May 5, 2024 to provide links to associated material for further study. Listen to that message here.

David French wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times that clarifies many of the concepts and legal issues related to free speech and civil disobedience.

This is the commitment card for the Birmingham Campaign that Martin Luther King, Jr. let. There is a brief comment on the commitment card here.

The Bible Project podcast on the Sermon on the Mount, episode 15, explaining “Turn the Other Cheek” discusses Martin Luther King’s approach to civil disobedience. Below is Martin Luther King Jr. as quoted in this podcast episode:

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It’s a sword that heals. The ultimate weakness of violent retaliation is that it’s a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar but you cannot murder the LIE nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate so it goes returning evil for evil ,multiplies evil, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. I love that darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Read Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermon “When Peace Becomes Obnoxious.”

Five Reliable Online and Electronic Resources for Jesus Followers (2024)

Many Christians are making use of online resources to stay informed and grow their faith. There are many excellent resources online. I will offer five that I find I use the most often, aside from simple Bible software that I use to access Bible text and reference resources. (If you are curious, I use Logos and Bible Gateway – mostly I use Logos but Bible Gateway starts up faster for quick reference. Both of these have apps in addition to websites.) So, here are my five resources.

Bible Project – Everything they do is of the best quality, and free! Bible Project issues a weekly 20-30 minute playlist on a particular topic. In 2024, it is the Sermon on the Mount. It is available by email subscription or in their app. The app offers access to all of their material. Bible Project has a podcast with weekly episodes and many YouTube videos. If you know me you know that I recommend Bible Project highly – no reservations. I have listened to their podcast since its beginnings, and it is one of my most valued resources. Their videos are very useful in classes and even in Sunday messages.

Holy Post and Holy Post Plus – Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales, and Skye Jethani began Holy Post in 2012. It is in a sort of talk-show format to discuss current topics and conduct interesting interviews. The weekly show regularly includes Kaitlyn Schiess. Phil has moments of profundity in the midst of his general playfulness and humor. Skye is generally serious and has long experience as a Christian leader from which to comment. Kaitlyn is a good-spirited, quick, a serious scholar, and a well-informed commenter. And soon Esau McCauley will be part of the mix – one of my favorite Christian writers. The Holy Post has various videos, podcasts and educational material, some of it free and some available only to supporters.

Regent College Audio – There are several educational institutions with “Regent” in their name. I am recommending audio and other educational material from the one in Vancouver, B.C. This material is generally quite scholarly – not lightweight. The classroom audio they offer is top-notch. Some of it is free, particularly their chapel talks, which are more like short sermons by educators. They offer a podcast which is generally interviews of professors speaking on the topic of classes they are teaching.

Biologos – For the science-oriented Christian. Francis Collins founded Biologos and sets the tone for their material

Lectio 365 – This app offers a brief scripture-focused daily devotional, one in the morning to start the day and one for the evening. Many people have found this a great help in their devotional life. I use it most days.

There’s this Thing about the Kingdom of Heaven

The kingdom of heaven does not and cannot come by being imposed upon others by human government. It cannot be legislated. The kingdom of heaven arises and grows when hearts and minds and spirits of humans are changed as they choose to trust and follow Jesus. The role of Jesus people is to follow Jesus so others see how good that is. Salt of the land. Light of the world. A city on a hill.

He has spoken to us by his son…

Recently, the Lectio 365 app included a paraphrase of Hebrews 1.1-3 in one of the daily morning devotions. For some reason, it struck me quite differently when personalized as they gave it. I thought I would share it and remember it. Below is the Lectio 365 personalized version of Hebrews 1.1-3 adapted from the New Living Translation.

Long ago I spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, I have spoken to you through my Son. I promised everything to the Son as an inheritance… The Son radiates my own glory and expresses my very character, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.

Hebrews 1.1-3 [NLT], adapted and personalized by Lectio 365

C.S. Lewis – “a living house”

Mere Christianity was one of the first non-fiction books I read by C.S. Lewis. As I recall, my first C.S. Lewis books were the Space Trilogy. I entered the C.S. Lewis world through Science Fiction! Next, I began to read his non-fiction, probably beginning with the Four Loves? Soon in my reading, I encountered Mere Christianity. I found such a compelling description of Christianity thoroughly refreshing.

Mere Christianity paperback

My copy was often loaned out to others and leafed through to find quotes for various writing projects while I was a college student. Soon, a replacement copy was needed. I think this was the replacement copy. It cost a what then seemed exhorbitant $1.45, plus tax! I thought that was kind of expensive at the time! I’m not sure this is my first replacement copy because I’ve given away so many copies over the years. Recently, I came across a quotation taken from Mere Christianity, which occasions this note. The quote is below.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

C.S. LewisMere Christianity

C.S. Lewis. What a gift to the 20th century! And to me.

Notes on “Focusing on Jesus – It’s All a Gift” Message

In this message, I mention a few resources to which I will provide links below.

First, the books that I mentioned.

The first book is a book that has been tremendously helpful to me as I worked on the recent messages on communion with Christ.

The second and third books are books that are very helpful in teaching and developing the practices and habits that are often described as spiritual disciplines. These are practices that we can do to put ourselves in the position to come to know and love God more deeply, and be changed by Him.

Lastly, I mentioned the organization Renovaré. Renovaré is a great source of podcasts, articles, books, conferences, and other aids to spiritual growth. Quoting from their website, they are a Christian non-profit that “models, resources, and advocates fullness of life with God experienced, by grace, through the spiritual practices of Jesus and of the historical Church.” What a blessing Renovaré has been to God’s people!

Notes on the Communion Maintenance message, mostly related to Dallas Willard

There is a great website packed full of resources from and about Dallas Willard. Many of his articles are freely downloadable from this site. There are descriptions of and links to purchase his books and other materials that are not free. It is a gold mine. Most of the links I give below are to portions of this website.

For Dallas Willard’s discussion of the gospel, see The Divine Conspiracy, particularly chapters 2 and 3. Of course, I and thousands of others would recommend you read the entire book. It is quite profound. Some have found it difficult reading.

More accessible material from Dallas Willard is available from several sources. I recommend the book Life Without Lack. The teaching series from which this book was written is also available online. I’m using this book as I prepare the series of messages beginning with this one.

Another teaching available in several forms that I highly recommend is Living in Christ’s Presence. I’m also using this resource for this series of messages. It is available as a book, a DVD of the talks, and audio. The book was based on a series of talks Dallas Willard gave near the end of his life in which he summarizes the deeper teaching of his more formidable books in a series of talks. The DVD and audio recordings are those talks recorded. Willard’s portions of these talks are simply outstanding. Ortberg’s are fine, too, but….. Dallas Willard. Ortberg has been know to call this series “Dallas for Dummies.” There is some truth to it being an overview; however, making deep concepts easier to grasp is a more difficult task than being long and complicated.

The article from which I skimmed the story of Dallas Willard’s comment during Richard Foster’s sermon on Moses is available online. It’s quite interesting and encouraging.

Not long after Dallas Willard passed, Gary Moon wrote a biography of him entitled Becoming Dallas Willard. It is a fantastic read. I appreciated it a great deal and highly recommend it.

Here are the two Dallas Willard quotes from my message:

“Psalm 23 covers the whole of the spiritual life in God’s kingdom. It’s all there — except for the essential understanding of the historical Jesus.”

“When you pray Psalm 23 you find that Someone is there waiting for you to greet you and guide you.”

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